CivilWestman’s Daily Life in the Time of Covid and Choler

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
Love in the Time of Cólera

The title for this oeuvre is derived from above precedents I’ve made explicit to dispel any doubt as to its inspiration. Since every scrap of life in America now is politicized, there are roots in Solzhenitsyn, who would have been a canary in the coal mine had not pretty much the entire USSR populace already succumbed to the miasma of Stalinism. As well, my psychic inner life, full of emotion, is congruent with Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ book - both as to infectious disease and as to choler - ire. Thus the citation of these disparate works. In no way does a short essay presume to enter even the same league as these authors. Rather, the title is a tip of the hat, so to speak, an obeisance, to men who implied so much with their mere titles. One Day in the Life… tells of the will to prevail over statist dehumanization; there is, I hope, some of that in this essay. Marquez’ title, on the other hand, means at least two things simultaneously. Cólera means the bacterial disease, of course. It also means ‘choler’ - ire, biliousness, anger, intense emotion. There is surely some of all that inherent in my days as well. I think this could qualify for Scanalyzer as either ‘Context’ or ‘The Happing World’ because much of it, I believe, is generalizable to today, but it may be too idiosyncratic (or pathological or narcissistic), so I err on the side of categorizing it ‘General Discussion”. To some extent, simply writing this and editing it (probably not very well) is clarifying and maybe therapeutic. With that introduction… .

All the following applies 6 days/week, Sunday through Friday. Each Saturday I work as a physician on the detox unit at a local drug & alcohol rehab from 07:45 until 16:00 or so. I arise at 05:45, drive 40 minutes and spend the rest of that day outside my own head, fully absorbed in the task of trying to help at least some of the patients - the ones who actually want help. Sadly, that is only some of them. In a way, Saturday is a respite from the various politically-motivated invasions and angst of merely living the other six days of the week when I am at home with my wife, my love, Gigi. I do most all the household tasks nowadays as she is severely physically limited by auto-immune conditions which include Parkinson’s-like neurological symptoms. Always an introspective person, my inner life is highly self-conscious as to thoughts, feelings and worries. I tend to ruminate on the latter.

My days are repetitive and to a degree demoralizing as a result - as in “It’s Tuesday again (already) and the garbage has to go out” or, “Off to the drugstore again to refill prescriptions” or “I have passed all my life’s milestones and this is all there is to look forward to”. Nonetheless, like many oldsters, I have come to prefer a highly-predictable existence largely so as to create the illusion of having some power and control over life even as it (hopefully only slowly) unwinds. I suppose this is a kind of denial - denial of the fact that time is passing at what seems to me to be an ever-accelerating pace. Much of my all-but-compulsive activities (they all require doing, but the obsessive manner in which I do many of them, perhaps serves a purpose in my psychic economy).

I awaken around 0800, put on my glasses (hidden between the mattress and the headboard so the cats can’t take them to play with), iWatch (it unlocks automatically when my iPhone recognizes my face, sparing me having to enter the code) and turn off the burglar alarm with a phone app. I don a long sleeve undershirt, warm flannel PJ bottoms & a robe, then take my nighttime urinal to the bathroom to pour in the toilet. By doing it when I must pee anyway, I save the water of one flush. I might qualify thereby as an enviro-weenie, but am merely motivated by frugality. Then to the sink, wash hands, rinse out the urine bottle several times and instill 2 drops of fragrance for esthetics sake. I then put morning pills - four of them - into an empty prescription bottle and put that in my robe pocket. If I take them in the bathroom on a completely empty stomach, I get severe abdominal pain, so I take them while drinking my first cup of morning coffee downstairs in the kitchen; thus the medication transport, which requires recycling the empty pill bottles back up to the bathroom at some point.I shower at various times of day when the spirit moves me and I’m not feeling excessively chilled; pre-warm the bathroom with the app controlled smart plug space heater.

A note on the urinal. Like many men my age, my prostate is vey enlarged, which results in several symptoms - most pertinent here is nocturia. I have to awaken to pee anywhere from 2 - 5 times every night. Again, like many men my age, getting back to sleep each time can be difficult. Just how difficult depends, to some extent, on just how wakeful one has become. With trial & error, I have learned that getting up and walking to the bathroom in the dark - with its cold tile floor - requires much more by way of mental arousal than simply sitting on the edge of the bed and peeing into a wide-mouth bottle, aka a urinal. It can also be done - as I do - in a tidy, hygienic and salutary manner. Accomplishing these attributes does require a bit of ritual, however. I usually fall quickly back to sleep.

After bottling my meds, I let the two kittens (two neutered male Ragdolls, 10 and 6 months old) out the bedroom door & eventually - with ineffective pleading and cajoling - corral them to come into the kitchen to eat their canned kitten food breakfast (My back hurts too much in the morning to carry each of them down and close the door which keeps them in the kitchen/family room where they spend the day). I carefully wash the kitty plates & water bowl with soap & hot water; rinse thoroughly (they are very offended by stale food or soap smells). Open a can of paté cat food & chop it up so the kitties will eat it (fussy, fussy). They are very lovable and watching them play with each other is one of life’s great joys! When they are a little older, we will try letting them roam the house at night, relieving me of having to prepare and place two full sets of food/water/litter; having this setup in both the kitchen and the bedroom is a good bit of extra work.

Then, I either reheat coffee leftover in the French press or make a new batch. One-half tsp sugar, one-half packet Splenda, a pinch of Trulia (I try to limit the dose of any one artificial sweetener) 1 tbsp half-and-half (ultra-Pasteurized half&half tends to settle/separate, so I gently shake it before each use; another ritual with purpose). Drink the first cup. If it is cold out (usually <25 F.), I reignite the fire in the wood stove. Second cup to follow.

I use an app to turn on the smart plug controlling the upstairs bathroom electric heater (we keep the house at 67 degrees F, since my wife is warmth-intolerant). I wear extra clothes for warmth in daytime & use an electric blanket at night. Sooner or later, after it has warmed, I head back upstairs to the toilet (sitting down on a cold porcelain throne is not very inviting). This, too is a ritual. Beforehand, I run the hot water in the sink until it is actually hot (takes 45 seconds). I fill the hand bidet bottle with very warm/hot water (proper temp is important!). Perform required evacuation tasks - details omitted for probity’s sake. Suffice it to say the hand bidet is a great boon to personal hygiene in old age and reduces use of toilet paper! I recommend it with all my heart (with other organs chipping in). A simple $12 device accomplishes what a $1000 bidet would do with slightly less convenience.

I wash my hands, go back downstairs and make a cup of Nespresso coffee, drink it, savoring it; much better than French press coffee. Place my sublingual medication under my tongue by spearing it with a needle and touching it to the mucous membrane under my tongue (it is too small and thin to be picked up by hand and put under the tongue). Suboxone at one-sixteenth the usual dose for opioid avoidance, is an effective off-label antidepressant for those with hard-to-treat depression/dysthymia.

While waiting the 20 minutes it takes for the medication to be fully absorbed, I sit in front of the TV or computer with a heating pad on my back (for my every morning backache and stiffness) holding a light therapy box in my hand just above my field of vision, to mimic sunlight. I alternate my hands and eyes, moving the thing right and left intermittently. Not pleasant, but it helps my seasonal affective disorder (SAD); the time passes quickly thanks to simultaneous screen time.

I head into my office (formerly the dining room) to boot up my Flythissim flight simulator and fly. I do some VFR flying around Switzerland, sightseeing and then do several ILS approaches into runway 14 Zurich. This is very effective at improving my mood (antidepressant effect) and also mitigating age-related cognitive decline. I do this for about a half hour and sometimes do it again later in the day.

I read the latest bad news of the world and the daily fantasies asserting a stable economy and financial system. I look at favorite webcams: Zurich, Rigi, Montreux region and Jungfrau. I survey new posts on Scanalyst, then answer any email and/or attend to any online accounts which require maintenance of some kind; all utilities are online and autopay, but nonetheless sometimes need attention.

At 11:30 an alarm reminds me to take my 3 powdered medications (Metamucil, Miralax, cholestyramine) mixed vigorously in 8 oz water. I refill the small reservoir containers I use daily about once a month from the large containers which I buy in bulk for economy sake.

I have some lunch around noon. Eggs with or without toast with or without bacon. Load the dishwasher - run it once a week. All non-smelly trash goes in the trash compactor. That which will eventually smell, I take out to the garbage can in the garage.

Surf the net, fritter away time. Maybe go to the pharmacy, grocery store or Sam’s Club for gas etc. Keep us supplied with bread, milk, half&half, coffee, vitamins, cereal, other staples.

Early afternoon, up to the bedroom to get on my Precor Adaptive Motion Trainer for a 60 minute aerobic workout while watching the longer Scanalyst videos. In 60 minutes I burn 800+ calories (according to the machine, half that according to the iWatch), with heart rate between 100 and 110. I could do this rate indefinitely, but an hour is (hopefully) enough to keep my LAD stent open. I do not get winded at this pace and I’m pretty sure it reduces my depression/dysthymia.

After at least 4 hours has elapsed since taking the powdered medications, I can take my vitamins - 6 of them; an iPhone alarm goes off at 17:00 to remind me. If taken sooner, the powdered meds prevent their proper absorption. Another example that life is complicated.

Time for some dinner. This varies. Sometimes, I defrost some black bean or split pea soup or chili with reduced amount of low fat beef. Sometimes just a half a PBJ sandwich or authentic Familia muesli - prepared the Swiss way with pureed apple, milk, cream, yogurt and fruit. Occasionally a hamburger, a steak or pizza. Occasionally charcoal grilled on the back porch.

Since I never know when the mail will be delivered, I go to the curb around dinnertime to bring in the mail (once a week I put out the garbage/recycling and bring the containers back in).

In the evening, we watch some TV for a few hours, continue tending the fire if the weather is cold. We find that to stream something ‘watchable’ the search takes a large fraction of the actual viewing time. It is getting difficult to find anything enjoyable or worthwhile. Long ago, Newton Minnow said, “TV is a vast wasteland”. So is streaming.

Getting ready for bed is also a ritual. Take nighttime medications - 5 of them. Scoop both the upstairs and downstairs litter boxes. Fill two plates with dry cat food and the water bowl with ice cubes (they like this for some reason) and filtered water. Carry it upstairs to the bedroom & put it on the rug/feeding station. Back downstairs to carry the cats up to the bedroom one at a time; my back doesn’t hurt like in the morning, so I can carry them and don’t have to corral them; I count the stairs as salutary exercise. I do all this because we like the cats to sleep with us. They are (sometimes, at least) very cuddly and comforting. When they are, I take a deep pleasure in it. There is really nothing quite so comforting as a warm kitten lying on or against part of my body.

In bed sometime between 2000 - 2200. Read until sleepy - usually by 23:00. Begin nocturia routine anywhere from 02 - 03:00.

Rinse, repeat.

Some reflections, randomly put forth:

For my emotional wellbeing, I have had to limit my attention to the “news” which has turned into mere orchestrated propaganda - especially as to Covid and the “woke” hysteria du jour . The former iterations of Pravda or Izvestia couldn’t hold a candle to the MSM+Big tECH when it comes to torturing fact & truth. I sometimes note how long it takes before one official pronouncement becomes exactly the opposite with never any explanation as to why yesterday’s prediction or command changed to the exact opposite today. If our betters cared about their credibility or moral authority, one would think they would explain their reverses. Instead, they simply rely on the memory hole, knowing the overwhelming static and distraction at the center of modern life.The fact that they never do is highly probative of their totalitarian ethos.

The repetitive, perhaps compulsive approach I take in these repetitive daily tasks, reflect my innermost thought processes. I try to do things in a precise manner and refine how I do them based upon ongoing experience. I just can’t do anything thoughtlessly. Maybe it’s the influence of Scanalyst (and previously Ratburger), but I find myself trying to think in terms of the scientific or mathematical principles underlying some of these mundane tasks. For example, when emptying the urinal, I think about the best angle at which to hold it over the toilet (near the water to avoid splashing) so as to empty it as quickly and completely as possible. The bottom two thirds is cylindrical, while the top third is conical up to the wide mouth with a screw top. I wonder how to write a mathematical expression which would describe the kinetics and dynamics emptying - the rate at which remaining drops would flow over cylindrical vs. conical surface and what factors - like surface tension - would have to be taken into account for such an equation to be effective. Then, I wonder how many extractions are optimal for rinsing (I again don’t want to waste water). You get the idea; I apply this kind of thinking to many of my tasks. It does help keep me intellectually alive and engaged. I just hope I don’t develop brain hemorrhoids.

A word on pharmaceutical economics and pill splitting is in order, as I have come to devote significant effort to it. Between my wife and me, we take more than a dozen prescription medications daily (none of them mood altering or addictive, BTW). Since I quit my employment as an anesthesiologist, a little over a year ago, we no longer have the good commercial health insurance we had for many years - with its excellent drug coverage. Our first foray into Medicare Part D has been unsatisfactory, as despite the fact that all our meds are common and generic, we paid about $3000 out of pocket (beyond the $3000 insurance premiums) for our meds in 2021. Under the prior commercial policy, the same meds cost about $600 out of pocket. New insurance with much better coverage starts Jan.1.

Anyway, I began studying drug costs and learned something surprising. Drug companies do not charge by the quantity of medication (by the gram or milligram or microgram) in a tablet. They charge by the tablet . This means, for example, that a 10 mg tablet of rosuvastatin costs almost exactly the same as a 5mg tablet! - or maybe 6 or 7 cents less. - definitely not twice as much! So, If one buys half the number of double the dose tablets, one pays about half - either cash or co-pay for the same amount of medication. The rub is that one must spend time and effort splitting tablets. And, some medications are not tablets but may be gel caps filled with liquid or capsules filled with powder - hence, un-dividable.

Now, only some tablets are scored for easy splitting. Most are not. I researched pill splitters and have gone through several - they are not expensive. The one I landed on cost about $20 and will last forever. Our friends in the pharma industry are not stupid, so (beyond renting out much of the political establishment) they make pills generally hard to split. The main technique they use is to make the tablets very small with rounded faces. Yes, this makes it more challenging, but by no means impossible with my high-quality splitter. I estimate I spend 30 minutes/week splitting tablets and figure it saves me $50 per week. In retirement, in effect, earning $100/hour tax free is time reasonably well spent. BTW, speaking of higher mathematics, the co-pays for these common, generic drugs vary wildly and assigning prices surely requires arcane higher mathematics and/or quantum computers. The ransom co-pays assigned defy ordinary reason.

The good news is that, as of Jan.1 I can stop thinking about this stuff and quit the part-time pill splitting job, since with my new insurance the co-pay for each of our medications will be only $2 or a month’s supply or $6 for 90 days. As well, the premiums are half, though the deductible increases somewhat. In total, a much better deal and no obsession required of me to control costs. This serves as yet another example of how complex ordinary life has become and the significant efforts required of cost-conscious individuals to simply obtain a reasonable deal - i.e. to not be taken advantage of by large corporation of all sorts - not just pharma. Our ever-vigilant and intrusive government, on the other hand, has elevated the art of mulcting citizens (aliens - legal or otherwise - seem exempt from most laws which are mercilessly applied to mere citizens) to astounding levels of stealth and sophistication.

Notes on the complexities of handling cat litter. Again, this exemplifies the practical requirement for a degree of compulsivity. Failure to do so has untidy, unpleasant consequences. We have two litter boxes, upstairs & downstairs. Litter goes out in the garbage every Tuesday night. Daily, I scoop the clumping-type litter into a small 2.5 gallon trash can with a tight fitting lid. Initially, I hoped to line it with plastic grocery bags and take those, weekly to the garbage can. No such luck, as, plastic grocery bags are designed to self-destruct. Most already have small holes in the bottom by the time they are emptied of groceries. It only took one full of litter to fall apart to cause me to mend my ways.

I searched for 2.5 gallon plastic liners & found some which looked suitable. When they arrived, they were thinner than I hoped, but I gave them a try. One promptly tore apart with the predictable mess (I had the good sense to try to tie the top of the full bag in a knot holding it over the litter box, so relatively easy to clean up). This moved me to the present solution: outside liner is a plastic grocery bag, itself lined with the thin purchased liner. Tuesday evening, I twist and tie the inner liner in situ. I then carefully lift out the contents using the handles of the grocery bag, carefully tied. I gently carry that to the garage and gingerly put it in the garbage can - inside some other container if one exists. Again, ritual with purpose, omitted on pain of extra messy work,

By way of apologia, the choler of today’s average citizens is on display, yet cleverly camouflaged by protective coloration and misdirection provided by the MSM. For example - Antifa, fascist to the core, despises any politics beyond its own and calls all others racist and fascist!(aided & abetted by the MSM) in the belief it immunizes themselves against being called what they obviously are - fascist. All this (and more) takes place in the wake of a neologism: COVID - unimagined only 2 years ago - is the word which devoured the world as we knew it. It unmasked - of all things - the state, clearly revealing its totalitarian mien, which has been burgeoning at least since the advent of progressivism in the early 20th century. The state is showing its true colors and the gloves are off. The imperious, promiscuous, ill-considered and often irrational bullying over Covid is indeed bare-fisted and resistance is futile.

Instead of a resurgence of individual liberty and freedom of expression promised by the original internet, we have reaped instead an all-seeing, all hearing surveillance system controlled by a handful of fascistic mega corporations joined at the hip with big government. The aiders and abettors, again, in the MSM would be the envy of Goebbels. For that matter, who really won WWII? We are now ruled by an (inter-) national socialist cabal comprised of all the foregoing actors whose beliefs and actions are combinations of replays of actions played out in several countries in the 1930’s. Only the insignias, color schemes and apparel have changed.

Today’s fascists previously co-opted all institutions with political and social influence by denigrating and deracinating Founding ideals and the Constitution and by citing and amplifying lies to deafening (and thought-stopping) volume. For good measure, they tar any who disagree with “racist”. In passing and worth noting is the fact that assignment of ‘Nazi’ to a position on the political spectrum as ‘right’ is, itself, a misrepresentation. National ‘Socialism’ is a creature of the left, though closely allied with producers in Germany; today’s fascism - the combination of big state with big tech (including ‘media’”) and big business - is the very definition of fascism and clearly of the left, even Stalinist, in ethos. In short, those with the reins today combine the very worst elements of yesterday’s fascists and Stalinists. Steeping in this reality on a daily basis, as I do, likens me to the poor lobster in the pot of water with a fire under it, soon to be dinner. Mixing the metaphors, we the citizenry, are in the process of transformation from milk cows to beeves.

None of this description of my quotidian life, with the exception of being subjected to woke lunacy and out-of-control Covid-facilitated statism, constitutes a complaint. Contrary to the attitude of my youth, I am actually grateful to be capable of performing all the household tasks I do, since my wife is no longer able to do much. I am grateful for her companionship. I am grateful for the love I feel for and from her. A recently added dimension of our lives is our mutual love of our kittens. The first, Theodore (The adored) was a surprise gift last June from our daughter & SIL. We bought Rudey in October (he is a bit of a Dickens, so we decided ‘Rude” was close enough, so ‘Rudey’) 4 months later, so Theo would have a companion. Those two do more for me than my antidepressants. I am also grateful to be generally not sick (mild asthma, a stent in my LAD coronary artery) and to be (except morning back pain for which I use an inversion table and a heating pad) mostly free of pain.

I am almost always aware (Saturdays excepted) that this generally salubrious life could come to an end at a moment’s notice (or with no notice at all I could just keel over) and this awareness sometimes unsettles me. This also reminds me of a widely-accepted myth: “He died quietly in his sleep”. This is likely far from true in many instances. The fact that no one witnessed or reported the last few seconds, minutes or even hours of a person’s intense fear and suffering, does not mean that the departed actually “died quietly in his sleep”. It is much more comfortable to subscribe to that myth than to consider the likely reality of unwitnessed or un-communicable, silent terminal suffering which the sufferer knows signals his final descent to oblivion.

The very contingency of all I have described in ‘Daily Life in the Time…’ is apparent when viewed this way and the fact that I could be incapacitated from doing all of it is frightening, to say the least. That knowledge makes it all that much more precious to me every waking moment.

[if you have tolerated this much, kindly excuse typos, mis-spellings, hyperbole, raw emotion and mis-editing. I get worn out sometimes reading my own words over and over and second-guessing myself. Such talents as I ever had in those areas have withered along with much else].


So glad you inhabit these pages. Where I used to live when time was slower I had a retired neighbor who would sit on his front porch in the evening. I would wonder over and sit and chat frequently. Those were swell times. If you were my neighbor and you wanted company I would wander over to your front porch.


Thank you for this, CW. This kind of writing is valuable, because many features of today’s life never get recorded. For example, the drafters of the US Constitution talked about Rights but not about the corresponding Obligations because, in their world, the obligations each individual had to take care of himself & his family were too obvious to require mentioning.

A while ago, I got interested in the issue of what it must have been like for ordinary people in the 1930s, seeing the inevitable disaster rolling towards them and yet being unable to do anything about it. Now I am interested in what life was like for ordinary people living through China’s Cultural Revolution. There are not enough accessible records on ordinary lives!

Just as a side note – if we are honest with ourselves, Fascism lost WWII but won the peace. The US, Europe, Russia, China started from different points, but have all drifted towards that combination of Big Intrusive Government and Big Business. The difference is that in the US and Europe, the politicians are in thrall to the business leaders; whereas in Russia and China, the business leaders follow the directions of the politicians. Time will tell which flavor of fascism has more staying power.


I am neither literary nor philosophical, which makes me appreciate this so much more as a masterpiece of literature, philosophy, and whatever you call real-life cinéma verité.

Being an engineer, all I have is a bit of household technology which I suppose the with-it youth would call a “life hack”. I have been doing this for decades, and named it, in homage to Larry Niven’s Slavers, the “bio-stasis bag”. You write,

The trick is as follows. Save medium-to-large plastic bags that things such as frozen vegetables come in so you always have one or two around. They only need be rinsed then left on the counter to air dry. Each week, after taking out the poubelle, start a new stasis bag and whenever you have any biological waste (onion trimmings, things that went bad in the frigo, bacon fat, or anything else prone to ferment), just chuck it in the bag and put the bag in the freezer. You don’t need to bother sealing the bag. At −18° C, everything will rapidly approach stasis. Just add to the bag over the week, starting another if the first fills up (this rarely happens to me). Then on the blessed nuit da la poubelle, throw the stasis bag in the big bag and away it goes. No odour, no horrors, and no scavengers or opportunistic arthropods discovering your detritus.


Merveillieux! Je le ferai tout exactement comme ca. Merci.


CW, thanks for sharing so much with us. Overwhelming. I pray for your wife’s health and recovery. I wish I could think of something more cogent and profound to say.


CW - you and I appear in some ways to be polar opposites, despite very similar backgrounds. I don’t know your age, but I’m 75 and suspect you’re somewhere in that area, more or less.

I am “ill” - with diabetes and HTN, some PTSD, arthritis, and loss of muscle mass. I compensate by avoiding heavy work, but attempt to do as much as I can with what I have. I have an essential tremor but still shoot weekly, more or less, and to the astonishment of my friends, do it pretty well still. The tremor is basically “white noise” - to be overcome as best one can.

I tend to like actually “doing” things more than video replacement, although I do drive race cars on my Xbox and large screen. I get a bit of thrill over hitting a corner faster than I did before, and experiment with different approaches to see if I can improve. I use a program that has good physics of race cars imbedded, with a large variety of tracks well modeled, so when I watch a program of a race, I generally recognize the track, brake points, acceleration points, etc. It is interesting to see how real life differs from the video representation.

We are moving to Dallas as soon as we sell our home here in the Soviet State of Illinois. I am looking forward to the challenges of a new state, forming new friendships (although I am not quick at doing that), and seeing my grandkids on a far more frequent basis than sent pics. I have not worked through all the logistics, something that drives my wife crazy as she wants everything preplanned. She has NO risk tolerance, whereas I, having been a Marine grunt officer, am quite comfortable with risk. I also don’t usually don’t sweat the small stuff. I take 30 pills a day in two segments, but all they represent is “pills”. I have a CGM and a pump, and my A1C is usually about 6.0, but that comes from breaking “the rules” about running the pump and where I hold my sugar. I am told “the studies” show there is no advantage to keeping your sugar lower than 125, but I hold mine between 80 and 90 mostly. After 16 years of insulin use, I only show some non-painful peripheral neuropathy. I am blessed!

In some ways you could say you have settled into old(er) age with dignity and pride, whereas I am still kicking and screaming as I move there. I just sold my 1982 Honda CB 1100 R race bike. I did not want to, but it was suddenly obvious I no longer have the muscles to easily hold it up, so riding would now be dangerous. So, sadly, it’s going to another who appreciates rare bikes and will give it a good home, as I have since 1985, when I bought it. We both share a disdain for our “evolved government” which has robbed us of real liberty. I am afraid at some point it may come down to 1861 again.

In the meanwhile, Bless you for soldiering on. We need people who can do that. I am not that example - at least not yet, perhaps never. I recognize there is only so much time I have left, but that only makes me a bit sad I will not be able to do some of the things I wish I could - fight revolutions, race cars, shoot more, enjoy my time with my wife and family more, fly an airplane more. Life is what it is; we take it for what we can. Enjoy what is left of your time. May God bless you with better health and wealth to make your end times better. But we both know God will do as He pleases. And He is righteous.


@deveraux As I read your comment, we have a lot in common. I don’t see opposites. I am 77. What has taught me a great deal of acceptance is 30 years of recovery from opioid addiction. I have come to accept my powerlessness over many aspects of life. Not all of them though. I have probably recited the Serenity Prayer a hundred thousand times or so & that still helps. Thanks for your honest & thoughtful comment.


@Devereaux (again) - as I reread your comment, I guess the difference you perceive between us is in the dimension of 'kicking and screaming". I can’t help but note that you switched to racing simulation as I switched to flight simulation ( I see many other similar behaviors, so I guess the difference you note is our response to our age-related incapacities, on the inside. One of the slogans I learned from the process I will here describe is “Don’t judge your insides by someone else’s outsides”.

If I gave the sense of complete serenity, that is not the case. What I have now is an operating system which tends to get me back in the right direction, but there are surely course deviations. I am very uncomfortable, for example, with my impending mortality. There is an unfathomable mystery attached to awaiting death, non-existence. Unlike in the movies, I don’t believe we get to reflect on our whole lives after we die, including getting to mull over the meaning of our deaths after the fact. There is just no precedent in our experience - especially for someone as introspective as I am, always going back over and over events, trying to fully understand their meaning.

I want to flesh out a bit how addiction and recovery helped me psychically become more accepting of the adversity of old age. In my younger life, I automatically believed in the analytic approach to psychology. I thought if I could just understand the pulleys and levers of my psyche, I would then be able to control my destructive/addictive impulses and banish my uncomfortable feelings (mainly the belief I was inadequate and unlovable). This is where the concept of powerlessness fits in. Since I think the concept is a universal part of the human condition and very clearly exemplified in the recovery process, I will say a good bit about it in that context.

I often explain to patients in the detox unit that what we are all powerless over is whether or not the desire to use (alcohol, heroin, food, sex - anything which activates the ‘pleasure center’ in the frontal cortex) is going to be our next thought. Our next thoughts are not under our conscious control, they have a life of their own by and large. For addicts, the arising of any slight feeling of emotional or physical discomfort is very likely to trigger a craving to use, to banish the discomfort.

This is where recovery programs come in. Rather than relying on an analytic psychological approach, they use behaviorism: concentrate on doing the very next right behavior and over time, your thinking will change (“You can’t think your way to sober living, you have to live your way to sober thinking”). The recovery fellowship teaches lots of tools in early recovery to not use when cravings do appear. More importantly, though in the longer run (as little as a few months for those who work the program as suggested), it offers freedom from the cravings in the first place! If all recovery was was going through life successfully resisting cravings, it wouldn’t be much of an improvement, after all.

So, the first step (of 12 steps) is to admit (to let in the concept, not to state it out loud as many initially believe)(corollary - “how do you know when an addict is lying”? “when his lips are moving”) is to accept one’s powerlessness over cravings and little by little change many, seemingly unrelated behaviors.

I try to drive these same points home to patients in detox. The fact that we cannot control our next thought/feeling/desire, does not mean that we cannot create tendencies for what they are likely to be in response to our overall life behaviors. People who, after discharge from treatment, return to the same “people, places and things”, are almost certain to relapse. On the other hand, those who attend daily recovery meetings and spend time & effort on other fellow sufferers, are less likely to crave using. The suffering and shame common to all addicts, I explain to them, is the bond which draws them together; they see in each other elements of themselves, which they are unable to see by themselves via simple self-examination; this inability to see ‘self’ is the heart of denial, btw (we call this “mirroring” - seeing self in the mirror of others).

I wish I could describe the many steps (the 12-steps have many ancillary suggestions) required for recovery. As the Torah and the Law can be summarized, said Jesus, with “Love thy neighbor as thyself” (setting aside for now the fact that active addicts no not love themselves) - recovery can also be summarized: “clean house, trust God, help others”. [a caution is indicated regarding belief in God. One need not believe in God to recover, only a “higher power”. A wise fellow I know once put it: “There may or may not be a God; all you have to know to recover is that you’re not him”]

This is not the forum to delve deeper into recovery. I wanted to describe enough to show how after a time investment of a few months and hanging out with others having the same difficulties, some remarkable changes occur. Addicts receive acceptance (which they are sure they don’t ‘deserve’) from other human beings they have allowed to know who they really are, warts and all. Unlike guilt (“I made a mistake”) shame (“I am a mistake”) is truly toxic. One afflicted with it never feels worthy of even trying to get better - just to change the feeling immediately by getting high. So by changing people, places and things, toxic shame reduces “one day at a time”, (just being among recovering friends). Newcomers also stop doing things every day that they, themselves, are ashamed they are doing. Their new (and real) friends support not using when cravings do strike, and slowly but surely change many behaviors so as to create a tendency that craving become less frequent and less powerful. Eventually they disappear.

Having gone through this process, myself, as though my life depended on it (it did) not only eliminated mood-altering substances and behaviors (“a drink is a drug is a girl is a cookie”) from the center of my life. It eliminated my sense of entitlement to all good things and finally, at age 46, permitted me through its absence, to feel gratitude for the first time in my life. Up until then, I believed there was no such thing as a gift - that everything I got, I had earned (I had to earn love, too, under this scheme). In recovery, I experienced the simple acceptance of other as a gift, and this proved the gateway to the gratitude I described in simply remaining able to perform the mundane but necessary tasks I discussed in the OP (in obsessive detail, perhaps). I am also extremely grateful for this forum - @johnwalker , and for this small but righteous community. For half of my life I was incapable of feeling any of that. Many small steps and the acceptance of fellow sufferers (not only suffering from addiction but just life, itself. The Buddhists say, correctly, I think, “Life is Suffering”). I had to learn, through much pain, to be grateful, even for the suffering part of it.

Since this unexpectedly turned out to be somewhat of a meditation, I will say “Amen”. Merry Christmas to any who have persisted…


@CivilWestman. You are right we share many common threads. But we also diverge in significant ways.

I completed a HS education at a prestigious prep school and graduated from Harvard in 1968 - and joined the Marine Corps. I was an oddball. EVERY GUY who ever asked me where I went to school would immediately respond to my answer with, “?What the he55 are you doing in the Marine Corps.”

When I came home joined a Reserve unit, got a job, and applied to med school. I ended up training as an internist, but worked ED back when it was just attempting to become a specialty. I eventually got boards in EM, requalifying every 9 years. I finally gave it all up at age 73, but until then it was a blast. I suppose it was only inevitable I would end up in EM - it’s the closest thing to combat in medicine - chaos, the unknown being brought in your door, multiple “threats” all around. What more could one ask for! I was infantry in the Corps. Not tanks, not a cannon cocker, not engineers, commo, supply, trucks, air control - infantry - where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. And I was good. I knew how to be aggressive, how to kill larger swaths of enemy than with 5.56 (something it took the Army forever to understand), and how to safeguard my troops as well as one can when bullets fly. I was known for never backing down from a fight and had threatened my share of “superior” officers if I felt they weren’t doing their job and getting me what I needed at that moment.

I have no frame of reference for all you went through with addiction. I have never used any non-prescribed medication, and used any pain pills only sparingly. I had my gall bladder taken out the old way, with a scar that turns the corner sub-xyphoid. I stopped all narcs in less than 24 hours and left the hospital in less than 72 hours. I have seen addiction - mostly in the ED, and come to know that one only “beats it” with personal conviction and dedication. And that means darn few do. So I am impressed that you have - shows a stamina and single-mindedness that is rare. Quite impressive. I have seen the wrecks addiction leaves and that you beat it is no small feat, one you should be celebrated for. And - to me - a sign you are no where near as weak as you make out to be.

Me? I’m a jarhead. There may be smarter than I, more educated than I, more erudite than I, more perceptive than I, more compassionate than I - but there is no one better than I. The old Marine Corps saying - No better friend, no worse enemy.

So take heart my friend. You’re a better man than you publically give yourself credit for. I understand why, but where ever life takes you - you drive! YOU decide on how to take the corners, the switchback, etc. Do not let Death just come knocking; drive it away with a “Come back some other time. I’m not ready to go yet!” then go do what you will, what is best for you and your wife. You’ve earned that right. You deserve that and more.